Friday, May 30, 2008

Selena moves toward the Abstract

I really wish I could link to my old blog right now, but the long, ever-changing history of my female comic character is now gone thanks to that blog's inactivity. So one of these days, I'm gonna have to fill you all in. Anywho, for those who've been reading this blog since its inception, you might know that my female comic character, Selena Isley, is constantly undergoing revision, both in terms of design, personality, and universe. Last time we checked in on Selena, she was looking a bit like Frank Cho's Brandy, but right now she's leaning more toward Tim Fischer's Powergirl. Now, before you accuse me of plagerizing, you should know that this is a normal part of my artistic growth.

I generally stumble across an artist I really like and proceed to devour every scrap of art they've ever published online or anywhere else in an attempt to figure out what makes their style "work." Why do I like Frank Cho, Tim Fischer, Bruce Timm, Mike Mignola, Mike Krahulik, Jim Lee, and the people behind Kim Possible and Clerks: Animated, but I don't like Eric Larson, Jim Lawson, Ashley Wood, the whoever did the art for The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again? Figuring out how to imitate someone's work is not entirely difficult. If you study enough of a person's art, you can whip out a respectable likeness without much trouble. What really bugs me, though, is figuring out why some things work and others don't. Personal preference, I'm sure, goes a long way, but the art styles of Fischer and Cho are on seemingly opposite sides of Scott McCloud's Picture Plane.

I think I must be drawn to the "Meaning" side of the Picture Plane, with a few exceptions (Cho, Lee). Simplified art really strikes a chord for me--so few lines and such simplified features, but it's so powerful. Look back at Fischer's Powergirl picture, then check out Alex Ross' version. Both respectable, but I get more meaning out of the more simplified version.

So anyway, Selena Isley, who I will post the history of one of these days, is now drifting back toward the more abstract corner of the Picture Plane. Hopefully she'll stay there, but I find that I'm never satisified with her design.


Prehistoric Insanity said...

Frank Millar drew and wrote the Dark Knight books. He's stuff is kind of blah... Except I did like the bit where Superman fought the Soviets, but I guess that's more where the book got amazing

Sean Craven said...

Hey, dude!

You sure that last Power Girl was Alex Ross? I've never seen him use a hard outline in his work before -- just straight watercolor. This kinda looks like Adam Hughes.

My take on graphic style in comics is that the purest and most effective examples are those that use inked linework either in black and white or using relatively flat colors because this emphasizes the visual unity of the comic -- the lettering and the artwork become one piece.

If you look at a lot of fully painted comics the lettering seems to float on top of the artwork rather than integrating itself.

Your comment about the cartoony Power Girl seeming to have more meaning than the fully-rendered version strikes me as dead-on. That's because the simplified version has stripped away information in order to convey meaning -- it's less like an observational drawing than it is like a pictogram. It's closer to the written word than it is to a painting.

And for all that I also like it when art in comics works as art. There is a broad spectrum of approach here, depending on the effect you want to get. But for comics as comics pure line seems to be the best way to make things work.